LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — A 63-year-old Moulton man is appealing his double-murder case less than a week after he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Earl Clayburn Coburn was charged in the shooting deaths of Micah White and Hubert White, in what authorities said was the result of a custody dispute.
Coburn pleaded guilty in December 2022, which Lawrence County District Attorney Errek Jett told News 19 was part of an agreement.
Hubert White and Micah White were father and son. Micah was also the former son-in-law of Coburn, according to Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell.
On a Friday night in September 2016, investigators said Coburn went to the New Antioch Church on County Road 217 and used his vehicle to block Micah White’s truck from leaving. While Coburn had Micah White trapped, authorities said he jumped out of his vehicle and shot Micah through the window.
Immediately, Coburn drove about a mile up the road to Hubert White’s home, where he shot and killed him, according to Sheriff Mitchell.
Deputies with the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) quickly found Coburn near East Lawrence High School, where they said he pointed a gun at them but the standoff was brief. Sheriff Mitchell said he was then taken into custody as a suspect.
Mitchell told News 19 that Coburn told a deputy that he killed Micah, then realizing the magnitude of his actions, decided to kill Hubert, too. The sheriff cited a custody issue over Micah’s daughter as the possible motive behind the shootings.
Coburn was charged with two counts of capital murder. He was also charged with one count of shooting into an occupied vehicle, one count of shooting into an occupied house and two counts of menacing.
In the plea agreement, Coburn was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, with the understanding that he would appeal almost immediately.
“Coburn had a defense expert that said he was unable to assist counsel due to the effects of long-covid, thus not competent,” explained DA Jett. Lawrence County Circuit Judge Laura Powell found Coburn to be competent, however, and the trial continued.
“Shortly after that hearing, Jett said, “the defense attorneys informed me that he would agree to plead guilty to capital murder with a life without parole sentence if he could appeal the issue regarding competency. We agreed and he entered that plea.”
Court records show Coburn pleaded guilty to capital murder of two or more people on December 7, 2022, with all other charges dropped. His appeal was filed on December 12.
That appeal has been filed as “in forma pauperis,” which means Coburn’s case can proceed without incurring the usual court costs.
No court dates were scheduled at the time this article was published. Coburn is serving his current sentence at the William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility.